Naked Blog

More famous than Susan Boyle!

Friday, August 31, 2007


I know... for most of you it's a nice TFIF. For me though, the feeling is more akin to Monday - the start of my working week. OK, it's only a two day week, but nevertheless.

Oh - there is another working day pops up midweek, but it's so surrounded by leisure that I hardly notice. Wow. A huge moth has flown in. Darling zoe loves moths. Wonder if she'll eat it.

Of course I could work more, could (possibly) work at something better paid, but this setup seems to have served not too badly for what has been probably the most peaceful decade so far. Nice. Blessed. A little more (human, rather than feline or cyber) company would be good, but you can't have everything. When you're strange.

Talking of songs - I've fallen completely in love with Happy Together by the Turtles. You should listen to it. Really listen. It's rewarding. Did you know they originally spelled their name "Tyrtles"?

And what is it about popstars these days? I mean that Amy Winehouse woman and Pete Doherty. What a pair of freaks, eh? Great example for the kids doncha think. Not like in our day.

Health News

Weight continues to fall slightly, but only about half a pound a month. (Chav Gav texted me to say he's lost a stone (14lb) in one month. Colour me jealous! It took me more than two years for that. But then he's just 39 and still with a full set of hormones.

Hair grows back. Facially, and increasingly on the bald pate too. (One of life's ironies that I was just getting into making videocasts for you when all me riah fell out. Strange.) But it's white now, so white! I look like an old man all of a sudden. Kenneth Horne. But never mind. Brown hair over an aged face just looks wrong.


September tomorrow, and soon the equinox. Me I'm battening down the hatches already. Dropping everything not strictly necessary for survival. There are increasing urges to play computer games, which I gave in to a little yesterday. Doom 2. But I yearn for Simpsons Hit and Run, in the living room. But Playstation is so crippling for the fingers and especially thumbs. Kids today are ruining their hands for Japanese profits. But capitalism doesn't care. More suckers coming up to replace them. Stuff their faces with burgers when they're not playing consoles and listening to iPods.

Telly's dire these days, don't you think? No mountain programmes for ages. I've volunteered to lead a few walks with the group. Oh, not exactly Base Camp, more like riverside strolls. But still. Somebody's got to do it, and they were getting desperate. Must be, to take on me! (Had to get that in before anybody else did.)

Competition Corner

Thanks to zed, Edvard Moonke, and asta for joining in yesterday's little photo-puzzle. Rather than give you the answer straight off, I'll show you a slightly bigger picture, so you can refine your choices if necessary.

And that's about it, campers. Have a nice weekend, whatever you get up to. Don't do anything I wouldn't do, which is quite a surprisingly long list.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007


As an official Olde Persone, I find myself entitled not only to a bus pass, but to Winter Fuel Payment also. (This is courtesy of Mr Blair whom you all seem to hate so much.) And thank you for paying your taxes so that I might be warm this winter. Warmer, at least.

Well, the form was simplicity itself to complete, as befits the elderly, and it was only when I was popping it into the convenient envelope that I noticed the address.

How appropriate! But next winter I'm expecting a relocation to Windfarm Lane.

Low IQ

Did you see Anne Robinson's IQ test on Monday? Amazing. She single-handedly reduced the entire UK to below average intelligence. (Less than one hundred.) What tosh. Clearly the BBC feels it's dumbed down so far that it might as well try the same trick on the viewers.

Photo Opportunity

So what's this, then? A Doctor Who alien? Or mebbe Star Trek. (Taken on Tuesday of this week.) Not saying where. There was a clue on my flickr page, but I've privatised it.

Windfarms are being built where there's no wind, in order to rip off the taxpayer. BBCi Funny old world. And I think I've got problems.

Winter Fuel Payments

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Well. Hardly had I stopped telling you about zed's fabulous book, then what should happen but andre goes and writes one! Yes, that's right. It'll be wonderful - packed with andre's superbly observed cartoons. You've got to buy it. And zed's too, of course.

Here's andre's book. Here's a reminder of our meeting last July. I would write one myself, a book, but you'd all just rush out to buy it, and then what chance would anyone else have.

Back To Where You Once Belonged

I finally plucked up the courage to look up a couple, just a couple of my blogfriends on the sidebar, drop a kind comment here and there, you know the sort of thing. But no. It's all been a bit traumatic, so I think I'll scuttle back to my convent, thank you very much. You know where you are when you're alone.

Plus I'm supposed to be on the radio on Monday, but ah just cannae hack it. Too, too scary. You don't agree? Then you try organising two, yes two hours of structured entertainment for people you don't know and have never met. I have no views about anything. Can see both sides of every argument. Couldn't give a shit whether people agree with me or not. Sick of pretending otherwise.

Mists And Mellow

That's right! Just when you think it can't get any worse, autumn goes and starts. Look on these leaves you SADfuckers and despair.

But other than all that, life's just too too wonderful. Darling.

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Monday, August 27, 2007


Yesterday in England was fun. Strange, but fun. And all a bit Wicker Man.

England is also called "Northumberland". We looked for the North Umber, but it was nowhere to be seen.

They've got:
  • heather
  • bogs
  • hillwalkers
  • pubs
  • smoking ban
  • They don't have
  • midges
  • decent lager
  • We climbed a hill with a fort on top, doubtless built thousands of years ago to deter marauding Scots. "Too late!" we shouted. "You lost! Scottish Prime Minister now!"

    Never mind. At least the Romans have still got the Pope. Even if he is a German.

    They laughed at my little joke about Mr Brown. It was strange hearing those odd voices when we eventually arrived at a place called Wooler...
    "Why aye man"
    "Why nor"
    "How's the gannin on?"
    "Ahsa reet. How's thoo?"
    Intriguing that our nearest European neighbours should be so very bizarre in habits.

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    Saturday, August 25, 2007


    Oh yes! It's fabulousness time over at zoe's. (My other darling zoe. I named my pussy after her you know.)

    What am I blethering about?

    Nip over to My Boyfriend Is A Twat and read zoe's (aka zed's) write-ups in the Observer and The Sun. Plus there's a great pic of them both in the Sun, although I think it says "posed by models" somewhere.

    In Other News...

    Saturday is busy, busy, busy, at da bingo. Yes, while you're out doing the grocery run in your four by four, my little larynx will be bleating out the numbers for about six or seven hundred punters overall. By nine-thirty tonight it'll be hanging like chopped mince I tell you.

    Tomorrow with the walking group it's England! I'm not kidding... Northumberland as I live and breathe. (That's where they filmed "The Hills Have Eyes" don't you know.) England where the women pop on a a burqua and dance round the maypole till they drop. Where the men have "trouble at 'tmill" and the pubs resound to "Knees Up Mother Brown" every Friday night. Oh I can't wait! Maybe I'll see the Queen...

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    Friday, August 24, 2007


    On the tragic killing of Rhys Jones, aged 11, in Liverpool

    Why, oh why?

    The waste.

    The values, often imported, our young people seem to have these days.

    Weapons of singular destruction.

    I thought they were banned after Dunblane.

    Guns don't appear from thin air. They are sold and bought. Traded for drugs.

    Do we not pay people called police to know about these matters? The deals that go on on their patch? Is it not their job to inhabit the underworld, as it once was known?

    But easy, so easy to blame. Instead we just shiver, pull the curtains shut leaving no chink of light, and just be glad it wasn't our own child. This time.
    "The young are violent because they have no words.
    They have no words because they have no thoughts.
    They have no thoughts because they have no inner life.
    And they have no inner life because they cannot be heard in the noisy caverns where they gibber and twitch."
    Quentin Crisp
    My sympathy to the victim's family.


    Yesterday, outside the uber-stylish Village pub

    Back row, L to R...

    Babs the birthday girl, Reuben Paris (society photographer), Emma Paris.

    Front row L to R...

    Craig, (Gwen's fella), Gwen herself (broadcaster and masseuse) and Andy the acrobat.

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    Thursday, August 23, 2007


    Eleven bank statements have arrived!!!

    Yes, Halifax Bank of Scotland have come up with the goodies. And the charge was no charge.

    So now I have no excuse not to calculate that blessed Council Tax. No further excuse. I should rip open those eleven letters, get out my trusty calculator, and - employing the not one but two mathematics degrees I possess - have that business sorted in - oh - ten minutes.

    I could do that...


    It's a sunny day - so sunny - and I'm off to the hills! (They're alive, you know!) Just the Pentlands this time. Slept in too much for further afield.

    Caerketton, Allermuir, Castlelaw (the very words are exciting, still exciting after all these years), then descend to the Flot for a refreshment. (But not over-refreshed. We're making progress with da units.)

    See ya around!

    Procrastination gives you something to worry about.


    Bigups to me mate Babs, who is forty-something today. (Clue: she's in her PRIME.)

    Love you kid.

    This space left blank for your greeting for Babs...

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    Wednesday, August 22, 2007


    You wait for ages, then two come along at the same time...

    I've fallen in love with the gasman. Yes really. There I was, just an hour and a half ago, enjoying the second lie-in for ages. (Darling zoe has twice let me sleep a little recently.) She's a bit less dawn-struck. So long as she gets her grub by about seven, she just eats it and lets me be. I've discouraged the "arm out of the bed" stroking we used to do. She loved it, but I was becoming clinically sleep-deprived.

    So anyway, there I was, snoozing away, having a nightmare about the bingo to be honest, when what should I hear but Saw, Saw, Saw right outside my front door.

    "What's that all about?" I thought, immediately darting for my entrance. Only to be greeted by the most impossibly handsome man I can remember in recent decades. He was sawing at a gas pipe above my door. "What are you doing to my house?" I asked, assertively, but not aggressively.

    He answered in the most exquisite Eastern European tones. No gyppo this one. No Big Issue in the High Street. Six foot one or two, thin as a whippet, big blue eyes in an unlined face, displaying perfect white gnashers as he smiled. Curly brown hair with Beckham-esque safety glasses atop it. Not that I was noticing, mind. I decided to call him Marek.

    Sadly I had to call Marek's employer to make sure that what he was doing (I won't bore you with the gassy details) that what he was doing was correct. He seemed terribly young to be dicing with life and possible death in that way. But alles ist klar the noo, and he came to my house once again to explain my pipes in more detail. He even offered to get a painter in to minimise the environmental impact. I won't hold my breath for that one. Lovely. If only the natives could be so courteous.

    Rambling Sid Rumpo

    Don't miss my extended ramble below. On the hills and over the page, that's me these days. It's about computer stuff, in my inimitable cheeky style, touching on Stephen Fry and Innerleithen on Sunday and so on.

    Here's the Innerleithen slide show from Sunday, featuring me in a shop window beside some other dummies, and lots of purple heather. Enjoy.

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    Tuesday, August 21, 2007


    Hi, how are you? Forgive me for being a bit nervous, a bit "blocked", a bit stage-frit. Yes - even after all these years it still sometimes gets to you.

    Personally, I blame Richard Dawkins. There he was on the telly last night, bleating on about alternative medicine - actually something fairly close to my heart, as that was one of my main strings when freelancing all that time back. (I take credit for inventing the genre of undergoing treatments and then writing about them.) Oh yes. My piece about the Edinburgh Floatarium is still spoken about with awe. And don't get me started on craniosacral therapy.

    Ayur Veda was just coming into fashion back then in the nineties (not for the first time, obviously - it's as old as the (Indian) hills). And the leading exponent thereof nowadays is Dr Deepak Chopra. I did a puff piece on his book, Perfect Health. Can't remember what The Scotsman titled it. But no mind - there he was last night, Dr Chopra, billed as talking to Rational Dick. On the telly. But me, I was heading home from the hills - literally. Perfect health.
    Innerleithen near Peebles again. Same town, different hills. Google are so damn good with their ads, that they've sent one about Windlestraw Lodge before I even wrote about it. Yes that's right. Spooky. Windlestraw Hill was my yesterday climax. But it's a big boggy mess. I think I'm up to here with boggery.
    Well - by the time I got in and got the cat fed it was too late to catch Dawkins' show. Even on the new-fangled Channel Four Plus 1
    You've got to retune your Freeview, by the way. All change. Musical chairs. Click on Add New Channels. This has been a Public Service Announcement from Naked Blog.
    I actually caught the second half of Enemies of Reason by those means, all about homeopathy, but missed the Chopra part. It wasn't on the Channel Four website either, but apparently you can get last week's Ch4 stuff on Channel4oD - their new subscription replay service, NOW WITH FREE CATCHUP. What the heck. I wanted to see it. So I clicked on INSTALL 4OD. And that's where our story begins...

    Update Mania

    Because what I was faced with, right in front of me, bore no relation at all to the helpful installation movie. "Click here. Press Run. Agree to This. Sign that." Oh no. I was getting a biggie over the wires, I could tell. Big update. Just like the olden days with dial-up, when everything took for ever, and if you were really sad you could sit and watch the progress bar, and marvel at the bit rate going up and down. Oh - those were the days. Steam internet. None of yer newfangled broadband nonsense. Elite. Like blogging used to be.

    What I was getting, I realised when it sank in that I might be sliding into deep doodoo, was something called Microsoft.NET - an entity which until today had totally escaped me. Passed me by. Left me in the cold and dark. (It's all to do with P2P, which I've never used either.) Always seemed a bit dodgy - get a free track and a Trojan Horse to ride it home on. The reason is that 4oD runs on P2P. Peer to Peer. Basically, YOU download the TV show, then others GET IT OFF YOUR HARD DISK. How scary is that? Very.

    So I checked about to see if Microsoft.NET was worth having, and how much would it clog poor Brad's airways. Then I attempted to complete the 4oD installation, but what should pop up but a dialogue telling me I needed administrator status.

    Yer what?

    So I checked about to see what that is when it's at home, and apparently it's to do with computer sharing. But when you don't share, when you're the only user, then you're automatically an administrator.
    "What do you do for a living these days, Peter?" "Oh, I'm a computer administrator - you know..." That'll shut them up, bigtime.
    Talking of bullshit, did you see Stephen Fry at all over the weekend? Awesome. I don't mean bullshit nastily - just that he does employ it on occasions. I saw the Mark Lawson interview, but was mightily distracted by Lawson's head, face and neck tics. Poor thing's got Parkinson's, if you ask me. Shame. And you heard it here first. And his glamorous sister Nigella lost her hubby to tongue cancer. Shows that money doesn't bring happiness. And don't get me started on that Euro-lottery winner.

    And I also saw the one where all his sleb pals were saying how great he is for an hour. Suspicious that no-one had one single bad word. Not one. I've completely lost the plot. Where was I? And are you still reading this guff?

    Administrator. So I fired off an email to Channel 4, to which they've quite promptly replied. I will keep you informed.

    Ripping Yarns

    Went out to the Village to celebrate getting forty quid a month knocked off my electricity direct debit, and came back to a washing machine needing emptied. How gross. So I went to put some music on, and decided I was sick to death of the one and only CD I've got on Brad. I swear if I hear "Come Up And See Me, Make Me Smile" one more time I will literally explode. So I decided to rip some more sixties hits. Just call me reckless.

    To Windows Media Player, eagerly. But what should jump up at me now but, "Do you want to Update Windows Media Player?" Why not, I thought. These things generally only change the colour scheme a bit. I am the Update kid.

    So I clicked Update Now. And what should happen? It started to update to Windows Media Player 10 AND 11 at the same time. How awesome. Then I had to restart.

    When it restarted, and I once again had to click this and agree that, what should pop up but that yellow shield thing on the taskbar saying New Updates Available. Click here to install. That's right - there I am finalising one set when another set turns up. It was three new ones for the Microsoft.NET

    So I went to check my Update History and - you're seriously not gonna believe this - seriously - I had to update my Update Manager. Oh yes.

    Never in the history of computing has one man done so much updating to so little effect. Because I still can't watch 4oD. Personally I blame Richard Dawkins, as I say.

    Get over to Post Of The Week and get nominating. Not this one, silly - the very idea. Just that last week was a bit slow, and we're needing more. Me I never have a spare moment to actually read blogs these days. Too damn busy updating.

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    Friday, August 17, 2007


    Yes, that's right. Rather than go hillwalking yesterday, I spent a day in the pub instead. Wit me mates. So shoot me.

    As you can sort of make out from the drunken ramble below, I'd got myself all tooled up for the day - even down to the flask of coffee. Then the postman arrived. With a yellow letter from the Council Tax. It was what I'd been asking for for seven years now - an itemised account of what they claim I owe.

    Decisions, Decisions

    Eenie Meenie. Continue with the hillwalk, or grasp the iron while it's hot and head off to El Banco? There to throw myself at their opulent feet and beg for some back statements? Well, all my back statements, to be honest. So that I can prove to the Council once and for all that I owe them nothing. Nada. In fact - the shoe's probably on the other hoof.

    And yes, I chose bank. But only on the strict proviso that there'd be an alcoholic reward at the end. (Just call me Amy Winehouse if you must.) But to (a) read a letter from the council, and (b) talk to a bank person - all in one morning... it's more than this delicate frame can usually manage.

    But I did it. The very lovely, if somewhat inexperienced, Hollie is going to send me all my statements. She even waived the charge, which used to be ten pounds a sheet, but now has sunk to a fiver all in. Well I'm not even gonna have to pay that. Thank you Hollie. May some young man make you very happy. May your babies grow up to adore you, and never put you in a home when you're old.

    Three Thousand Metre Peter

    Oh yes. Am I revelling in last week's achievements! There might be a person left in North Edinburgh or Leith who hasn't heard of this, but somehow I doubt it. The Village pub was good fun. All day, as I say. Campbell is back, and his brother David. Dean looked in in the morning, Graham the boss chatted about hillwalking, and Andrew the extremely pleasant young barman was a delight throughout.

    Rena came in, and we chatted about cock. And we chatted about Big Straight Al. Gwen came in, and she and Rena went into a huddle in a corner, presumably not to talk about BSA. He who can never be named was there, and the only one missing was Chav Gav. Shame. I returned Campbell's two Bukowski books he'd kindly lent me years ago. He asked had I read them. I said enough to get the idea. You don't need to eat an entire cake to know what it tastes like.

    Ultimate Rock Climb

    9.00 tonight, BBC1

    My how MSM are rushing to do ever more outdoor stuff since we started writing about it here! Mountain, Wainwright's Walks, and now this climbing bonanza which you can see tonight. (By the wonders of scheduling it was shown here on Wednesday.)

    You MUST SEE THIS SHOW. It's got the lot. A glamorous but sensible novice called Julia Bradbury, and a so macho, yet Beckham-voiced studly leader. A bottle blonde. (Him, not her.) I tell you, it's a pairing made in heaven. You just wonder, really wonder, quite which foot Tim Emmett kicks with.

    Yummm. If I were forty years younger... [Ed: Shut up, you past-it old bag. Disgusting.]

    Do try to see this, or set the vid. Succeeds on so many levels. You can keep yer damn soaps.

    Free Wallpaper Offer!

    Yes, to mark my three thousand metres last week (have I already mentioned that?) to mark that, I'm offering for a strictly limited period this exquisite shot of Canada Hill, south of Peebles. It was my final descent after Thursday's marathon.

    Send no money now. Or ever. Click on an ad if you wish to send me a wee bawbee.

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    Thursday, August 16, 2007


    I haven't got long. No - truly I haven't.

    Today was the strangest thing. Off work of course - and so what to do whit the old body? More rest - or gentle lexercise? Remebering that last week was the most energetic since I was... 35... mas o menos. Oh yes. Here at Naked Blog we never make it up - onlike som,e other publecations |I couls danem.

    So there I was... missed the 9/30 bus for the Pentlands. Oh well - in good time for the 10.30. But 'twas not to be... that moment slipped by also - probably while I was playing that last - oh make it last - that last ever game of Solitaire.

    My chicken sandwiches and coffee were ready to to, the Co-op quiche defrosted and sliced, when suddenly - so suddenly - what should pop thourhg the door but a letter from the Council Tax.
    Regulare readher will here...
    Sorry. I can't go on with this rubbish. Have a lovely evening. Got to go and watch Friends, which always - always - does the biz.

    You know when winter's coming on when you start thinking - just thinking - about the Simpsons Playstation game. All that yellow. Oh yes. You better believe it baby. Plus there's Crazy Taxi.

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    Wednesday, August 15, 2007


    Last week I ascended over 3000 metres in total, over four walking days. Metres, not feet. That's more than three Munros, from sea level, which you never ever do. That is all of the news. (The Himalayas average 5000m above sea level. Mt Blanc is 4,800 metres above sea level.)

    So what does it FEEL LIKE, ascending 3000 metres in total? (This weblog is nothing if not introspective, but you know that.) I do the living, so you don't have to.

    It feels strange. Tingly all over. Tingly feet and knees. Back and front. Tingly heart even. Odd, as I say. You have to sleep a lot, and shovel down the grub. Quality grub. Shovel. This is no time for dieting. Veg, fruit, chicken. Yes, birds died so that I might walk the hills and hear their relatives. Funny old world, innit?

    Munro Magic

    Sunday with the walking group was Lochnagar near Balmoral, which seems variously to be an actual loch (lake), a corrie (cwm or cirque) and a mountain. The highest bit is like an artificial mound, to be honest. Cac Carn Beag, which means little heap of shit. Yes, cac does seem to mean shit in Gaelic. The things you learn on Naked Blog. And Cac Carn Beag at 1150m or 3790 feet is number twenty in the list of Munros, Scotland's highest Mountains.

    The list is somewhat subjective as to what constitutes a separate mountain, and it's nowadays administered by the Scottish Mountaineering Club. The the current list of 284 Munros and 511 tops is from the 1997 revision. Under the metric system, a Munro has to be 914.4m or higher.

    You can see the corrie and the peak on the photo on this page. The peak is the little pimple at the top right of the pic.

    It was very exciting. Not only for the achievement, which was actually less than on Thursday when I did Peebles southward, but for the royal proximity. The Balmoral Estate. The near certainty that every member of the royal family would have walked the path you were treading. Prince Charles entertained his sons with a tale called The Old Man Of Lochnagar, later to be published. There were many old men (and women) of Lochnagar that day on Sunday just gone.

    We passed Crathie Parish Kirk, where the Queen goes when she's up here. We chatted about her looking after the young princes after their mother was killed. We wondered what it must be like for William and Harry, now that they're adults, constantly reading about both their parents' adulteries. We wondered that, but not for too long. These are among the most privileged people on the planet.

    Never Say Die

    I feel I'm leaving normal society and joining some slight athletic elite. It's odd. You look at men half your age and know, just know that they couldn't have done what you did last week. You seek out the healthy, rather than the unhealthy, for your company. You sit in libraries reading mountain books, rather than in pubs. You move even further away from society as normally known. (Sedentary, passive, computer- and TV-gawping. IPods and mobile phones.) You look only to the next hillwalking opportunity. You become, in short, obsessive - like mental golfers who do it even in the rain. You're bound to have seen them and wondered and probably pitied.

    There's an entity called Gay Outdoor Club Scotland, which I might check out - but in truth I feel even more alienated from gay society than from straight. On the top of Lochnagar I mentioned Quentin Crisp to the walking group. It fitted in to the conversation of the moment, seemed appropriate. But they're bound to ken anyway, as we say. I make no secret, inhabit no closets. Dead give-away, as QC commented in one of his books.

    But now work beckons. Ta-ra chucks. See you on the top of Ben Nevis! How blessed I am.

    No pics of Sunday sadly, as rain was forecast, and I didn't want my camera to go wishy washy like the phone did recently. You can see Google Images of Lochnagar here.

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    Saturday, August 11, 2007


    Still no time to write about the momentous day on Thursday, certainly the bravest I've undertaken alone. Quite alone, with not even a phone signal.

    Miles from anywhere. Barely even a sheep to cuddle in a frozen emergency. (OK - it was August, but gie's a break, Jimmy...)

    So no time to write, but it's the pics you like best anyway, so here's the slideshow.

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    Why is my splendid dotcom blog showing as a dot.php on Google?

    Hits recently have been at an all time low. Probably the lowest since records began.

    I had put this down to (a) infrequency of content, and (b) poor quality content. Sad, but survivable. All good things come to etc. Nothing is for ever.

    But no! The truth is out there! Whilst browsing Google for stuff on the Sunday Times blog competition, I chanced upon my own entry, as it were.

    And what was that entry? Was it the dotcom I pay good dosh for?

    Why no! It was an abomination, a chimera called

    I've been downgraded from a DOTCOM to a DOTPHP!!! This will split rankings and put people right off clicking. I mean - who wants to know what a .php thinks!

    So - why has this happened, and what can I do about it? I can't imagine people at Google would answer a letter about such a matter. No wonder traffic is disappearing faster than a snowflake on a radiator. This is NAKEDBLOG.COM Nowt else. Dammit.

    Where is Tony my IT Manager when I need him?

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    Friday, August 10, 2007


    What's that all about then? This must surely be the weirdest blog compo ever. And with possibly the least extravagant prize - one night in a hotel, a couple of bottles of whisky and a lecture from a professor. Doesn't your mouth just water? Mop up that drool, please!

    OK - so it's not exactly the National Lottery... but how does that make it weird?

    In various ways:

    First off you have to send in an essay. About Scotland. (Can there be any media more anal than the Scottish? It'd be hard to imagine.)

    Secondly, and crucially, they DON'T EVEN ASK FOR YOUR BLOG URL!

    Third: when you get to the "progress page", what do you find but penses by established Scottish writers... William McIlvanney, Alexander McCall Smith et al. Again - NOT A BLOG IN SIGHT.

    Bizarre. I did enter, in a spirit of bonhomie, but I'm thinking of withdrawing. After all, the best weblog in Scotland is right now in front of your eyes. (I think they actually realise that, and that's why they've stopped updating their page.)

    Sunday Herald Scottish blogging compo. The one you CAN live without. (They're even getting the prizes fer nowt, in return for free ads.) The only thing missing is Ian Fecking Rankin.

    My comment to the above effects is number eight in the McIlvanney comment box. And now number ten also.

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    Fantastic day yesterday, on the hills south of Peebles. Yes - I was back there again. Loads and loads of walks to be done, but this time it was Gypsie Glen to Cademuir via some real boggy high ground. I can understand bogs in low places, but not high, and never on slopes. Why tf doesn't the water run away? Into the damn sea eventually? I thought that's what the sea was for.

    Anyway. One million pictures, including a hot air balloon practically touching the Peebles chimney pots, but sadly work beckons. Later, my chickadees. Possibly manana. There is lots to explore south of Peebles, I can see. I love growing old, me.

    Distance 28.5km, total ascent 1125m, six and a half hours plus breaks. Not bad for sixty, if I do say it myself. Lost one and a half pounds. Saw only three humans in seven hours, and not many sheep.

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    Wednesday, August 08, 2007


    Fancied a change yesterday, the way you do. I'd had two days of good and needed legrest, although Monday did bring a quick shimmy up Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat. Just can't help myself. The forecast was dry if not glorious, and I thought what the heck? Let's try a bit further afield. Let's hop on a borders bus and have a PENSIONER ADVENTURE!

    Well, the internet wasn't that forthcoming, but I did chance on a hike Stewart and I had done a couple of years ago, albeit in the wrong direction - for reasons known only to Stewart.
    Talking of which, we seem to have buried our most recent differences - yes, I'm sure you guessed, even if too polite to say - buried those, and I'm back on the box in early September. Oh yes. Radio's not radio without Peter.

    First Bus 62B from Edinburgh to Innerleithen, just past Peebles. There were fifteen or so people travelling, and of those only one looked under sixty and paying a fare. The bus pass concession is funding entire bus companies! Well done, Scottish Parliament.
    (Unlike almost all other media, this weblog understands the difference between the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive.) Think Westminster and Whitehall, if that makes it easier for you. I do despair.

    And also digress. In Innerleithen I scoffed probably the nicest Scotch Pie I've ever had in my entire sixty years. Delicious. Sorry I can't remember the name of the bakery, but there only was one, and it deffo wasn't Greggs. Exquisite - on a sample of one item. And that pie was to fuel the ascent from 145m (where I was) to the summit of Lee Pen at 502m.

    Everybody says Lee Pen is a big pull, but I found it quite OK. *Smirks.* It's a climb of two halves, and there's a good long flat bit in the middle. Twas nice to sit down at the top behind a wall from the wind, with a cup of steaming coffee and some Cadbury's Turkish Delight. Everybody says you should eat good quality chocolate on the hill, but everybody can fuck off.

    A long walk (hour and a half-ish) along a pretty boring ridge then, heather trying to flower, but not quite yet, and with views all over the joint. But borders hills are not spectacular in the way you get further north. Jagged excites - rounded merely yawns. I find. Doncha think?

    To a radio or TV transmitter at Dunslair Heights - just like something out of Lost. 602m.

    Then down through Glentress Forest to Peebles, dodging mountain bikers getting their faux-wilderness jollies. Cross Keys Hotel in Peebles, where I got chatting to the barman - as you (sometimes) do.

    "Are you from Brisbane?" I asked, trying to show off my knowledge of the finer points of Aussie-speak. But he wasn't. "Correct hemisphere, mate," he said. "But it's the Falkland Islands."

    Oh. My. God.

    Readers old enough to remember the Falklands Conflict (which is almost all of you) will probably never have met anyone who comes from the joint. I took a deep breath. "Was Mrs Thatcher right to do what she did?" I asked, and - uncharacteristically for me - was actually interested in his answer.

    He paused, as if asked that one thousand times before. "Yes," he said. "There were two and a half thousand of us, and the Argies had taken us prisoner."

    I bought him a pint. Told him to take up hill-walking. He said he shears sheep, and that's lots of exercise, but the wool is worthless and you can only make carpets with it.

    Here's a wind farm and an early housing development. It was a good day, yesterday. Puts the poxy festival into perspective.

    Twelve miles, 800m total ascent, four and a quarter hours plus breaks. Not bad for sixty, if I do say it myself. Lost one and a half pounds.

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    Monday, August 06, 2007


    Being the first full day of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Naturally your top blogger was there to capture the action for you...

    Let your pointer hover for the narratives, such as they are.

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    Sunday, August 05, 2007


    It's terrifying.

    What is?

    Terrifying to be getting dark at half past seven, that's what is. Be winter before you can say foot and mouth.

    Talking of which, I was horrified just ten minutes ago to hear the Chief Veterinary Officer saying that, "Farmers should check their livestock for symptoms of foot and mouth disease."

    Well - I've got news for the CVO: animals don't have SYMPTOMS (unless they've learned how to talk): they have SIGNS.

    Fucking eejit. And I'm paying his 100k a year. Probably.

    Anyway - lighten up Peter. Just because it's Thursday since you had a drink doesn't mean you have to beat up on the readers. (August, whilst not quite dry, isn't proving too bad, drinkwise. Five pints of weak lager in what is now five days.) It's the fifth of the month, you see. Not three bad, if I do say it myself. But that's still five pints too many of course. A healthy person is not an intoxicated person. No signs.

    Cathode Rays

    Been some good stuff on't box of late. Griff Rhys Jones' new series Mountain is excellent. Last week it was the north of Scotland, especially the Cuillins, and in just half an hour it'll be the Lake District of England. Poor relation, but never mind - at least the English got something to take their mind off the loss of the Beckhams.

    Last night there was more mountain stuff in the second series of Alive. Three English climbers on Mount McKinley in Alaska when drama struck. Good show, based on the Touching The Void structure of having the real people talking heads - interwoven with actors recreating the incident. Worth it.
    Turns out it's made by the Touching The Void people, so there ya go. You read it here first.
    These days I never ask why, when it comes to mountains. I just seem to know, to understand. And to wish it had been me when I was young enough. (But I still got a tiny dream!)

    Tonight on the Beeb there was half an hour on the Cairngorms, but it was mostly birds and animals. No snow. All gone. They've brought in reindeer, bison and wolves, but they're captive, not wild. Yet. Oh and beavers. Apparently they're a good thing too. Beaver Escotia.

    Then there was an hour about the Ganges river, which was ace. Do try to get the repeat. How I wish they'd spend my licence on more stuff like that, and drop all that Wimbledon nonsense. Batting a ball over a net. That's all it is, tennis. Batting a ball over a net. Pointless to do, and imbecilic to watch. Sorry. And they criticise me for watching sleb BB.

    Talking of which - guess who's on at the Edinburgh International TV Festival? That's right - Jade Goody! Take That Miss Shetty!

    Tomorrow I'm not on the radio, but I gather Meg is appearing with some other co-star. I of course wish them both well. Question is, can I climb the Pentlands without having a restorative pint or five afterwards? The needle is well stuck in that groove. Superglued. Watch this space.

    Now I'm off to see Griff in the Lake District. I gather he's doing Wordsworth and Coleridge, those famous poetic junkies.


    Thanks for your comments over the stop-drinking thoughts. The idea seems to be that when you stop drinking you lose all your friends. This would make perfect sense if all your friends were in pubs - which is how drinkers usually end up, even if they started out with a wider range. Thanks again. Much food for thought.

    And while it's certainly true that a man who can stop smoking can stop absolutely anything, the habits of smoking and drinking are fundamentally different. One intoxicates, one doesn't. One is (usually) sociable, one is (always) anti-social. Smokers, of tobacco at least, don't turn ga-ga in front of your eyes and start to spout gobshite.

    No strong comparison, then. We shall see what we shall see. You still die anyway.

    Update: Episode Two of Mountain was if anything better than One. The perfect balance of rocks and personalities. Exquisite, jaw-dropping. If Mountain doesn't win every documentary award going I will eat my new Brasher hiking boots. Heavens I never knew when I started up Arthur's Seat those few years back that the entire world would follow in my footsteps.

    There are leaders, and then...

    A Clockwork Orange was on as well on Friday night. Fucking mental still. Even with ads. But ideally you had to be alive and sentient in 1971.

    The reason it seems so visionary is that it's been so copied. Freude. (I saw it three nights running in '71, to convince me how terrified I was. No DVD then. Nor even VHS. You had to sit in the dark in a thing called cinema. They've still got them, but they're much smaller and don't use celluloid.)

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    Friday, August 03, 2007


    Regular readers of my organ will appreciate just how pickled it is. Rarely a couple of days go by without you learning what Tom, Dick or Harriet has said about the state of things. In this pub or that one. Village, Port, Flotterstone. And there's the rub. It's all in a pub.

    All. It's never in libraries or Greenpeace meetings. Can't be at work, because they read it. Can't be the walking group, which is fascinating, because they WILL read it, sooner or later. (On the internet there's just no place to hide.) At one time you might have had to travel thousands of miles to find someone. Many movies worked on those far-flung romantic plots. Nowadays you just press Enter.

    Time, Gentlemen, Please!

    But all this bar-hopping comes at a cost. A cost to the pocket, and - more worryingly - a cost to health. Despite a fitness regime which would cripple most men half my age, there are signs of trouble brewing once again.

    Mental signs. Rages, mostly. Neuroses and near-psychoses even. At one time I didn't go "psycho" till at least the eighth pint, but now it starts around pint four. This is not good. In fact it's fucking scary, to be honest. And so many of my drinking buddies from the eighties and nineties are now sucking daisy-root juice while the worm doth feast on their pickled remains. Booze is a menace. It simply has to go. There is no place for alcohol or tobacco in a modern, healthy lifestyle.

    And yet... and yet... no drinkie means no chatty, and no chatty means no bloggie. It's a simple equation. If I don't drink, then I don't talk. Except to customers, colleagues and the cat. CCC.

    Twelve Steps

    So I decided, without telling you, that August was to be alcohol free. One month as a trial. Haram.

    And what happened? The trial was an enormous success - unqualified - til 1.30 pm on August the Second. That's right... yesterday after my gruelling Pentlands set. Oh, I was in ample time for the half past one bus - ample. But that would have got me home by something after half past two - with the rest of the day till bedtime to occupy. Eek! The one thing booze does do is pass time. Loads of time. As much time as you want or as there is. It is a miracle of time-passing. Other activities require thought. Effort. Disgust even, as you clean the floor a bit.

    So what did I do? I nipped into the Flotterstone for a couple of pints and a chat with the staff. Then later, the Village with Chav Gav et al. Dean the manager has got a nose ring through his septum. Makes him look like a cow. (I said it to his face, so I can say it here...)

    I don't know. What's to become of us all? Cheers.

    Fields Forever

    Yesterday I bought some strawberries from the Co-op. Previously I've tended to avoid strawberries as being too extravagant, but these were half price so I lashed out. Ate the lot. 454 grammes, which I estimate is a pound. From Fife, in Scotland. They say you should always eat locally-grown produce, as that way you get the correct vibrations and aura. But I also ate a pound of grapes from Spain. All that carbon footprint! And finished with a pound of broccoli, cauliflower and carrot mix.

    Darling Zoe got an evening meal of chicken breast. The wee thing was in pussy heaven.

    (Readers not used to eating vast quanties of vegetation should avoid such excesses, for laxative reasons.)

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    Wednesday, August 01, 2007


    The sheer unrelenting miserableness of this weblog is costing me readers by the thousand. Oh dear. But never mind. Truth is - I just tell it like it is... warts and all.

    Seagulls (presumably heterosexual) are attempting to mate outside my window. Live sex show. I'm trying not to look. Oh they've moved on. Guess I'm not GOOD ENOUGH for bird-shagging then.

    Now: as a lifetime achievement Bloggie finalist - twice - I do know a thing or two about blogging. And the prime purpose of a weblog is to ENTERTAIN. People want to leave your blog feeling BETTER THAN WHEN THEY ARRIVED. It's a well known fact.

    So here are some pretty pictures. All except the last, fresh from yesterday. Which was a pretty fab day. The hills are not alive, but they're damn better company than many who are. [Ed: stop that now. Just when you were doing a bit better...]

    Doesn't Gordon Brown's face look a state? He's got bags underneath the bags. Whaddya bet he gets "work done"? I hear the Tories are gunning for Cameron. Well - he never was anything more than a pretty face.

    But back to da piccies...

    Yesterday breakfast:

    That rollercoaster again:

    And turning slightly to the right:

    But what's this? Slight change of perspective...

    Yesterday lunch:

    Sunday lunch:

    We don't have much money, but we do see life...

    Thanks to the boys at the Flot for a very pleasant drink and chat. Good to know there are still a few places where you can get friendly and professional service.

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